Mary Gates Research Mentor
Mary Gates Research Mentor
Mary Gates Research Mentor
Mary Gates Research Mentor

Mary Gates Research Mentor

Mentoring Awards (2008-10)

The Mary Gates Endowment for Students

As I progressed through my graduate studies at the University of Washington (UW), I took the opportunity to mentor a number of undergraduate students in humanities research methods and applications. Given my research is at the intersection of new media, technologies, and culture, I generally served as a mentor in that capacity.

In 2009, two projects for which I was a mentor—“Googling Race and Gender: Decoding the Digitization of Asian Women,” by Seungwha Lee, and “New Directions for the Non-Directive: Integrating Technology into Writing Centers,” by Nichole Poinski—were supported by the prestigious Undergraduate Research Scholarship from the Mary Gates Endowment for Students. Many other students I mentored ultimately presented their work at the UW’s Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium and the annual Computers and Writing Conference.

For this mentoring, in 2009 I was honored by Undergraduate Academic Affairs and the Undergraduate Research Program with the UW’s annual Undergraduate Research Mentor Award.

Nominating me for the award, one student wrote: “As a mentor Jentery Sayers constantly pushes his students to exceed expectations while never demanding perfection. His project-based approach to classroom learning drives students to be competent in both theory and practice. These are difficult fronts to cover, but through computer integration of the classroom Jentery succeeds in creative approaches to authoring, responding, teaching, and feedback to students. The projects that I have developed under him have been an invaluable stepping stone in my academic progress. His emphasis on revision, collaboration, and student feedback should be the standard at this University: it is something I have come to expect from my professors and higher education.”

What I Learned

Pithily put, I learned that teaching is not mentoring. Not only does mentoring take a significant amount of time, labor, and caring outside of course design and the classroom; it also requires dedicated attention to a student’s schedule, research methods, learning modalities, and personal and educational investments. As a mentor, I also learned how to assist students in the process of applying for scholarships, including writing abstracts and letters of interest for educated non-experts. But what I most enjoyed about these mentoring experiences was witnessing mentees present their research and receive acknowledgment for it.

(The first image on the left, courtesy of the Undergraduate Research Program at the UW, is of me speaking to undergraduates (on Halloween) about my research. The second image, with the Mary Gates Endowment (MGE) logo, is of Mary Gates Hall at the University of Washington and is courtesy of Undergraduate Academic Affairs. The third image is a screen shot of the MGE’s website. The final image is of undergraduate researchers presenting their work during the Summer Institute in the Arts and Humanities.)